I started this blog to try to present a reasonable view, neutral between hunters and non-hunters on wildlife. I do have a position against public lands livestock grazing, and I favor wolf recovery. For these positions some will think I’m wrong.

This blog has generated a lot of good discussion. Very important facts have come out. I think some wildlife policies have been modified. I know other news media get ideas for stories here.

Unfortunately, the level of hostility among those who comment on this blog and in public in Idaho in general on wildlife issues is rising so rapidly, I wonder if there is any point in continuing to allow comments or even to maintain the blog.

Anyway, that’s what I am thinking.

Feel free to discuss it for a while here in a civil tone.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you everyone for your expressions of support for continuing a blog and a blog with comments.  I have been digesting these, and I talked with Ken Cole, who has been helping me a lot over the last year.

I’m going to post my thoughts here rather than as a regular comment where they will soon get buried.

– – – – – – – – – –

1. Everyone’s full name.

There’s no doubt this would calm things down quickly. However, we would lose valuable comments from people who would quickly be in trouble with their boss, their customers, their government agency, their relatives, their personal lawsuit, so forth.  Some of these comments have given invaluable information.

I will encourage you to use your full name, and I can ferret out fake full names. No doubt it will give your remarks more authority. That’s just natural.

2. Folks who go over the edge.

Most everyone gets irritated and lets out a rant against someone (who might well deserve it).  About a dozen regulars have gotten email from me at one time or another, and I have suspended some and removed others permanently. Some have really gotten angry (it helps if my email is plenty nice); others come right around.

I think sometimes a person has had a bit too much to drink when they comment.

For just a while, I hope, I’m going to have to be more aggressive reminding people. Some are not going to like this. My apologies in advance. Some are going to go away real soon.  Another problem is “thread-breakers.”  Let’s say there is a good discussion of recreation fees going, and someone makes a good comment but it’s totally off the subject. Something needs to be done about that.

It helps if you are posting into an ongoing thread if you at least glance at the five or six comments before yours.

Do Ken or I need to create more “open forums” where people can write what they want to write about at the time?

3. I want to change the name of this blog.

“Ralph Maughan’s” Wildlife News might make me seem like an ego-maniac.  Actually it is just a historic accident. My old web site was created for me way back in 1995. The person who made that site named it after me. Soon it started to be picked up by the search engines, and I kept that name to maintain ranking.

This is no longer necessary. I’d like to get rid of the “Ralph Maughan” in the name. I don’t want personal attention. However, what should it be called?

 
avatar
About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

160 Responses to Is there any point to having any further public comment on the blog?

  1. avatar jon says:

    I hope you don’t get rid of this blog Ralph. I come here daily. It would be a shame to take it down just because some of us disagree with each other on certain issues.

  2. avatar Save bears says:

    Ralph,

    I know the frustration of running a system like this, but have to say, even with the disagreements, yours is one of the more balanced places on the net that both sides can talk about the issues.

    But also I am aware, that it is a large time investment and can really draw on a person.

    What ever you decide, you should know, this is a valuable resource on the net..

  3. avatar Devin says:

    I think what you do here is fantastic. The links and thoughts you provide cannot be found any where else and I am grateful for what you do every time I visit.

    I think a lot of what we have seen here is that when both sides see themselves on the losing sides of the issues, the rational thought goes out the window and non-rational emotions kick in. I enjoy this forum because I view it as a neutral site where both sides can get info and voice their opinions. But the name calling by both sides has to stop. The name calling and stereotyping hurts any potential movement by breaking it apart before it even has a chance, regardless of what side of the issues people are on.

  4. avatar Josh at NRDC says:

    Ralph—

    There’s no doubt that the hostility and volume needs to be turned down on both sides. That is what has made your site such a valuable resource: one of the few spin-free places for information and dialogue. I would hope that this can continue—but if not, I thank you for your efforts to inform and communicate. Much appreciated.

  5. avatar Layton says:

    FWIW I agree with SB about this blog being more “balanced” than others — you let BOTH sides have their say.

    Yes, sometimes it gets pretty heated, methinks that is to be expected. Some of the topics here are pretty controversial and people are emotional about them.

    As you know, sometimes I’m right in the middle of it, but I really do try not to fly off the handle that much. My suggestion would be to issue “timeouts” to the more off the wall folk and, if they get more than a specific number — cut ’em off!! (except for me — of course 8) ).

    That said, I do appreciate the effort it must take and I would hate to see it go away.

  6. avatar John Glowa says:

    Ralph:
    I usually check your site several times daily. I consider it the best source on the internet for wildlife related issues. When I do comment on your blog, it is usually to educate and inform folks about wolf issues in the northeast-an issue that virtually no one in the press is well versed about. As far as northeast wolf recovery is concerned, the press usually simply mimics the government mouthpieces, regardless of how true/untrue the information is. For me, your blog is an important means of conveying to people the facts, setting the record straight, and countering the government’s spin. I do think that sometimes the comments on the blog are not constructive, but I think the good far outweighs the bad.

  7. avatar Ryan says:

    I think it goes both ways Ralph, the forum to allow differing opinions to share their views is a great opportunity for each side to see where the other is coming from. That being said, there is a middle ground to found among many by debate and discussion and what I have read here and been challenged to research by many on here have greatly changed some of my views. That being said, those on the extreme edges make this site hard to read and respond to in a civilized manner.

  8. avatar harold says:

    Ralph
    I injoy reading the blog. I also notice the hostility between those who comment. It might clean up some of the comment if {he Or she} had to post the State they lived in. Better yet their true name

  9. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    One of the largest technology blogs in the nation recently suspended until further notice comments on there site for similar reasons.
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/02/were-turning-comments-off-for-a-bit/

    I throughly enjoy the discussions on here, although it can get heated at times the amount of knowledge and perspective I have gained from this website from commentary of many different angles on similar issues have been incredible.

    I really owe my current understanding, and concern for Western land management to this blog.

    I have said dumb things on here in the past, without a doubt. I even wound up in a heap of trouble with a agency I once worked for by saying something that had the possibility of associating my personal opinion with that of a official capacity.

    It was not hard for them to contact me though because I remain accountable for everything I say. every single post has my full name that is public to anyone who reads it. I would even be willing to publicize my email that is visible to Ralph, Natehobbs@gmail.com. I prefer representing myself in the digital world.

    Without telling Ralph how to run the website maybe the annoyminity needs to be removed. When your first and last name is above the window your typing you really think twice about what your going to write.

    Anyhow, I would greatly miss the free flow of information that occurs here should comments be removed, but it is your blog and you can direct it in the course that you desire. I will still frequent this website regardless of your decision.

  10. avatar Kayla says:

    Ralph, Thanks for having this blog! Now to let you and
    everyone know, I come here daily but hardly ever ever
    voice a comment. I personally feel that it would be a huge
    shame for you to close this blog down because of a few.
    This is just a symptom of the political scene is our day and
    time that with everything going on, everything has become
    seemingly so polarized in the extreme. I Love this blog of
    yours Ralph and Thanks Again Bigtime for all the time and
    energy that you invest in this blog. Creator Bless!

  11. avatar JB says:

    Ralph:

    I find the exchanges between “commentors” on this blog far more informative than most of the stories to which you link. I don’t mean to suggest these stories are not informative, but there are so few journalists who are capable of wading through the complexities of environmental issues that most of the nuance is lost in “main-stream” reporting. The comments that follow often help “flesh out” the content missed in these stories.

    I don’t have any problem with “heated” debates, but I wish the personal attacks would end. It would be helpful if more people recognized the difference between attacking a person and attacking a position.

  12. avatar Mgulo says:

    Any time you deal with issues involving charasmatic megafauna you will attract mega-egos, who often believe they are also charismatic. Fortunately, they are generally recognizable as a species and easily discounted by the more experienced. Those who are drawn in to such discussions most often provide both amusement for others and their own educational experience. Eventually they either learn some discretion or wear themselves out and fade away. As long as nobody ends up with a horse head in their bed, no real harm is done and maybe some good is accomplished. Besides, if you don’t take them seriously, they’re sorta like magpies – fun to watch!

    That said, I’d hate to see the blog go away. I’ve learned quite a bit from some of the posters (a bit less from others) even through the clouds of green smoke and I have seen some interesting information and ideas passed about.

    I know there’s no way to force folks to use reason (the second most uncommon of virtues) but it might help if they would consider – before pushing the submit button – if they would really say to a person’s face or attach their real name to what they have just typed into the box. If so, fine. If not, well….

    The other possibility is to limit posts to daylight hours – I notice the temp goes up in the wee hours. Makes me wonder about folks who sit up all night over a glowing monitor sending their thoughts into cyberspace. Maybe they shold get a pet python (A Really Big One) or something….

    Bottom line: you’re doing good – don’t let the buggers discourage you. The fools are with us always.

  13. avatar jdubya says:

    This is a great site for information and communication. I would hate to see you end it.

  14. Dear Ralph,

    Your provision of breaking news links virtually everyday, always insightful (and often iconoclastic) commentary, and flawless facts have proved invaluable in my practice of pro-environmental law and writing endeavors on behalf of imperiled animal nations — especially wolves — our “resistance fighters” for the “geography of hope”.

    Even traveling to professional conferences I find myself checking your site everyday, knowing that there may be a new fact at the end of the end that I may be able to use in a presentation, etc.

    Moreover, in my opinion, your site is enabling countless individual citizens around the world to keep abreast of Big Brother government’s mostly failed environmental policies, to let corrupted policy makers and “protectors” skirting the law re: the last remnants of our natural world know that they are being closely monitored, and to facilitate peaceful and largely informed communication between those who seek to change the status quo, no matter how formidable the odds.

    In sum, your site is priceless, and its’ closure would comprise a tragic loss — most especially for our priceless wolves, bears, bison, cougars, bobcats, raptors, and so many more.

    Thanks so much for all that you have done for so over such a long time!

  15. avatar DB says:

    Limit the comments to those you feel relevant and of value to the rest of us – much like Andrew Sullivan on his Daily Dish. Perhaps that makes even more work for you but it would be a better blog. Many here post just because they can and their comments are trivial and personal. You could weed those out. Eventually people would think a little more before they post.

  16. avatar tom-hh says:

    Ralph

    I am one of the nameless, faceless lurkers who visit your site each day. I have been around going back to your old site. I live in the midwest, but believe the most beautiful place on earth is the Lamar Valley in the spring. In the past couple of years I have written my own senators, congressmen and now President about issues such as appointments, parks policy, delisting and grazing. I wouldn’ know anything about these issues without your site. There are too few credible voices on these issues, we cannot afford to lose anyone. Thank you, Ralph.

  17. avatar Virginia says:

    Ralph – I really hope you do not suspend this blog. As I have stated many times, it is one of the first things I read every day and even when I am out of town, I try to check a computer to keep up on the wildlife issues. I do use my real first name, I have not added the last name, but am willing to do so. (My husband doesn’t always want to be associated with my radical views). I stand by my opinions and am not afraid to express them. I try to be civil, sometimes I get annoyed, I have been accused of being rigid (I am), but always feel I have gained so much information from this blog. I do miss reading more of the informative posts from people like Brian, Ken, JimT, and of course, you. I figure I can skip over the nasty stuff, but do not feel for the most part that anyone is out of line here. If we all met in person in a room, I’ll bet we could find that we all have more in common than we think – we care about wildlife issues in one way or another. We all need to promise ourselves to be civil and respectful. Thanks for listening to my humble opinion.

  18. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    Ralph – this is truly an educational site. I would agree with JB regarding the fleshing out of issues. I would also agree with Kayla on the political polarization in our country, certainly makes your job more difficult. Ralph, I made the decision to contribute because I wanted to learn and share. I do not mind the heat so much, of course the level of “heat” is relative and my experience commenting is only the last 4 months. I would encourage you to look past or around the falderals and keep moving forward. I appreciate your patience and energy. Thanks

  19. avatar Maska says:

    Ralph,

    I hope you’ll continue to provide both links to interesting and useful articles and opportunities to comment. It is frustrating, however, to read endless back-and-forth comments on the same old topics–especially the hunting vs. non-hunting arguments. This probably does discourage some people from commenting or even returning to the site.

    On occasion I’ve noticed that you cut off comments after a certain amount of time, or perhaps number of posts. If a particular thread gets into an unproductive rut, that’s probably not a bad idea.

    The bottom line is that if your blog didn’t exist, I’d have missed a fair number of articles that I’ve sent on to many friends in the Southwest. I hope you can find a way to keep a good thing going. I might also suggest that all commenters keep in mind that there may well be young people reading this blog. Do we really want to set an example full of harsh personal attacks and, shall we say, rough language?

  20. avatar cc says:

    Ralph,
    I’ve been visiting this site from back when it was just an article site with no comments at all. The most important part of your site are the articles you post and the brief commentary you add. It allows all of us to keep up with issues we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I don’t find the majority of comments by the rest of us to be very constructive or relevant. I can’t imagine the time you must spend refereeing is worth the small breakthroughs that occur.

    If you do decide to continue allowing comments I would suggest a zero tolerance rule. The first time anyone uses bad language or name-calling they get booted from the site no matter who they are. It would be your standard of what’s acceptable or not. This should save you time in the long run and put more responsibility on the folks commenting.

  21. avatar Todd Wilkinson says:

    Ralph—
    It’s easy to become disheartened in these times. The rhetorical shouting that you’ve witnessed is not isolated to your excellent site. Please persevere. You are right: Your blog and postings are invaluable, especially to we journalists, but equally appreciated is YOUR level-headed selection of stories and your commentary that accompanies them. I also appreciate the fact that you are a retired academic and an active naturalist doing this as a labor of love. You should not have to be refereeing mud-slinging matches, nor encouraging grown adults to refrain from childish venting waging personal attacks when the whole point of this forum is working to thoughtfully address clashes over issues , some that have festered forever. I have one bias: Being old school about journalism and commentary, I think the merits of allowing anonymous posters and ranters to use pseudonyms is highly questionable. The complete breakdown of recent civil discourse in this country tracks closely to the rise of blogging and unregulated anonymity. (A sharp departure from only a few years ago when letter writers were required to sign their names to commentary that appeared in the newspaper). Are there cases where identities should be protected? Certainly, but rarely. It should be YOUR call in granting anonymity to them on your forum. It’s remarkable how people engage more civilly with each other when they must stand behind their words with their real names and identity. Will you lose some commenters? Probably. But let’s see how much courage people have to exercise responsible and constructive free speech. Keep up the good work, Ralph.

  22. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    Ralph,

    Your blog is invaluable to me. I live in the outskirts of civilization (NW Colorado) ans pretty cut off from rational press coverage. without your blog, I would be alone in the wilderness.

    Rick

  23. Ralph
    I enjoy the blog. I do think that those who comment on here should be proud enough of their opinions to put their real names on them. If they are not brave enough to let everyone know who they are, maybe they ought to go somewhere else to comment.

  24. avatar Cindy says:

    Ralph – I do hope you consider this a wake up call for all of us –AND keep it going. I truly learn many important facts and sometimes I even stop and consider what folks that don’t agree me think and say:) I understand how it must feel to oversee such a monumental task, which I suspect is fine by you but what you don’t need is a climate of hatred, bullying mentality or folks being just plain mean. The other day I was accused by a mean person of being a socialist and anti American strictly because I have a Obama ’08 sticker on my car. Even though I could care less about the tortured person who said it, it hurt! And I care so deeply about the survival of my Brother Wolf that I know I have to learn to discuss, not argue, so that my contribution is meaningful. I invite you consider one aspect of Wolf medicine during this time of conflict, pathfinder and teacher. From Sams and Carson, “Wolf is the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine”. Wolf medicine invites you to “share your personal medicine with others”. “As you feel Wolf coming alive within you, you may wish to share your knowledge by writing or lecturing on information that will help others better understand their uniqueness or path in life”. Remember, “Wolf would not come to you unless you requested the appearance of the tribe’s greatest teacher”..
    I know, I’m the dreamy one here.

  25. avatar monty says:

    Ralph: This blog compared with NewWest has far less name calling & such. I depend on your blog for wildland & wildlife news!!!! Don’t let the fools stop you. We must contend and contest w/those who litter our lands, poach our wildlife and in general would destroy our remaining wild lands. Never before in our history have we needed more good citizens like you. You are a voice of reason!!! Thanks!!

  26. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Ralph,

    Your blog provides an incredible public service – it is informative, stimulating and provides a framework for developing thoughts and sharing different viewpoints. The effort you (Ken and Brian) put into providing daily articles of interest is very much appreciated. It is an essential forum for discussion and monitoring the complex and evolving environmental issues facing the West. To my knowledge, there is no other like it.

    DOES IT NEED A SET OF RULES TO CONTINUE?

    If it would make your job as webmaster/moderator easier, and maybe give you some peace of mind, a code of conduct might help.

    1. Civility in tone
    2.. No vicious personal attacks
    3. No foul language
    4. Good grammar/spelling

    In my opinion, these should be the cornerstones for posting here. Reasoned thought may also be appreciated by some.

    The standards of conduct could be stated up front, with sanctions for violations, like maybe a “three strikes” provision that puts you in a time-out status for awhile, or maybe just get kicked off. Some newspapers use a “report abuse feature.” Don’t know if wordpress is capable of this.

    Anyway, thank you very much for your efforts. There is, indeed, a point to having continued public comment, here, from my perspective.

  27. avatar David Fogg says:

    This site has been a unique forum to teach this easterner about some western land-use issues, as well as keep a tab on conservation’s pulse. I’m grateful for that. I’m sure there are a lot of misanthrope posts that never see the light of day and keep you busy, Ralph. Two or three times you’ve even edited your posts due to counterpoints/questions of mine. That takes integrity and commitment, and you have my respect.

    Could you make the site comments-for-members-only? Then you could just kick members out for inappropriate content?

  28. avatar Ellen DVM says:

    Ralph- Please do not quit blogging- while your biases are well known, you stand as a voice of reason in a debate often defined by those on the extremes. As in many political issues like that, no solution will come without a sane and moderating voice. You and your blog can help to provide that!
    Carry on!!

  29. avatar jerryB says:

    Ralph……Require full name and state of residence. That, I guarantee, will solve most all problems.

  30. avatar Doug says:

    I agree with all the sentiments expressed thus far that this blog is an invaluable information source and forum on issues that are egresiously under-reported and understood by the MSM.
    The level of sniping and personal attacks on this site is disappointing, but most fo the time it is remarkably civil, the kind of conversations we need to have. I appreciate that people with different opinions (some hunters, most all ranchers) provide insight on this site. Please continue on Ralph. In my experience, it seems to be sniping between a few people with built-up grudges and a history of animosity that provide most of the vitriol. Perhaps make clear to them that their opinions are welcome on the issues, not others’ opinions?

  31. avatar Vicki S says:

    Ralph,

    I read the blog almost daily, rarely comment, but definitely depend on this as the place to keep pace w/wildlife issues, especially wolf-related ones.

    I’m in CO. We have no wolves (usually), so this is THE place to go to find out about the latest wolf related head-butting going on in states like yours that do have wolves.

    It gets frustrating just reading about the issues, so I can imagine that the whole thing takes its toll on you.

    Whatever you decide, I have greatly appreciated having this blog up to now. You must be tireless.

  32. avatar Save bears says:

    Those who are calling for full names and states of residency…how do you ensure that the poster is actually providing this information?

    There are some of us, that don’t provide our names due to legal reasons, then there are some who don’t provide there name for fear of retaliation.

    But short of a ID verification, how do you require a poster on a blog to provide the correct information?

    Both sides on various issues can get out of hand, I am guilty of it myself, but the internet is a big place and there are billions of people who do have good information to contribute, despite the others that disagree.

  33. avatar Jeff Nichols (formerly Jeff N.) says:

    Ralph, I’ve been visiting this site since the Wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone. If I recall back then it was just a Yellowstone wolf pack information site. This is the first site I check on a daily basis and I comment sporadically on issues relating to the geographical region I reside, the Southwest. I value this site and would hate to see it go away, and I thank you for the time you dedicate to it’s upkeep. I like the Idea of standing by our comments by using our full name and starting now I have done that.
    Thank you.

  34. avatar JimT says:

    I too would miss the blog if it were closed completely, but I understand your frustration. I too have strong views and don’t hesitate to share them, but as long as one disagrees with ideas and doesn’t resort to personal attacks as to the relative worth of the person, disagreements can be tolerated or shut off if they have become repetitive or simply boring. For example, I probably would deserve dinging for calling Toby ignorant the other day. I should have said his ideas were ignorant….

    I have been on discussion groups where certain topics were just verboten, like a labrador forum list where hunting and field trials were off limits. It was a heated topic between those who show dogs and those who just care about the competition in the field and not the standard. Neither side would ever meet in the middle. Perhaps, here, the hunting-no-hunting topic is just not one to mentioned or referenced, though it can be relevant.

    Perhaps the comments need a rest..a vacation, and this could be just a posting site for information, stories, etc. with links.

    Whatever you decide, I know your career and dedication well enough to say you have given more than your share to the pursuit of environmental protection, and if you want to enjoy your retirement without the yipping of us prairie dogs…~S~…no one here is going to not respect that decision.

    I have a friend coming in who works for BLM, so I am sure I will have ample opportunity for discussions about grazing, etc. here in our living room. I will check the blog in a few days and see if it is still here.

  35. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Oh hey –

    This is one of the few places where there’s some informed dialogue on wildlife issues. I would hate to see it vanish.
    It’s a real service you’re providing, I appreciate it a lot. I’m sure most on this site feel the same.

  36. avatar jon says:

    Since I have been on here, I have not seen anyone that I can recall curse at one another. One has to realize that there are wolf lovers who post on here and hunters as well, so naturally, both parties will clash from time to time on certain issues and subjects.

  37. avatar mikepost says:

    Ralph, you provide a valuable serve to the conservation world. That said, you should tighten your standards for comment. It is not complicated. The first time someone issues a personal attack or uses profanity shut them down and make them submit a request for reinstatement 30-60 days later. You will only have to do this once I am betting and that will be that. Our worst offenders will miss this forum the most.

    The one dog that never has to bite is the one everyone believes will bite.

    It would also be nice if these strings timed out (for comment, not reading) after a certain time or number of posts. All too often the string goes way off message by the time we have 50+ posts and that seems to be where the worst of the kindergarten cat fights take place.

  38. avatar Mtn Mama says:

    Ralph, I echo the comments of many others here. I visit your site amost daily, LOVE the wild life infomation! I rarely comment or even read the comments. So please keep the news feeds even if you get rid of the blog. Thank You for all your hardwork!

  39. avatar IlliniMike says:

    Ralph, I too hope that you will continue this blog. I enjoy the information you post here (wolves, cougars, environmental issues). I usually do not even read the comments that others post. I have never posted here before, I just wanted you to know that your site is very meaningful to me. I have it as my home page. When I log on – your site comes up. No matter what you chose to do, I greatly enjoy your site and have for probably three years or more. Thanks for all you do.

  40. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Ralph I agree with those people who want you to continue here. Education on wildlife issues is usually sadly lacking and this site is one of the first places I go to for information on issues. I also want to vote for the requirement of using full name and state for posters. Any of us who have written a book, published a study, do photography for a living, put up a website etc. know that once you do that your life is public. If you require full names people will not call others names or be abusive and will think hard and long before they post something, possibly do more research and be a better part of the discussion. After all, you have your name on the blog so why shouldn’t the rest of us? If rudeness is the only issue in your decision to continue this important work, I too think requiring names and states will end it. Thanks for all you do. Sincerely, Linda Jo Hunter, Washington State

  41. avatar mikepost says:

    Jon: as a big game hunter who supports wolf reintroduction and loves to watch them in the wild, I just sit at home and curse at myself and thus avoid inappropriate postings…

  42. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    [Sorry, I accidentally posted this on another thread.]

    Those who would advocate that commentors use their real name, may wish to think about it a bit more. The internet is not a benevolent forum, and never will be. What is put on the internet has a near – forever life. I recently attended an all day professional continuing education forum put on by former FBI and IRS agents, and computer forensics experts on that exact topic. Mining the Internet.

    In fact, after reading this some of you named commentors may wish to become more anonymous.

    For those who have personal views which differ from their current or perspective employers, there is risk without reward. For those with names that are uncommon it gives less anonymity, if your state or town is known. The world is getting ever smaller. For those who ever expect to run for public office, or even those whose views change over time, perhaps as a result of idea exchange on this or other forums, it can be troubling, as written words can be taken out of context, and often are..

    The electronic age has also enabled the linking of ever more information, not all of it accurate. And there is often no way to change it. If you doubt this, just plug your own name and state into peoplefinders.com, and you will be amazed at how much is known about you personally, and individuals associated with you, maybe in places you have not lived for decades – again not all of it accurate. Pay the access fee for a detailed profile and you get even more, right down to email address, street address, telephone numbers, criminal records, property ownership, mortgage information, court filings and whether you pay your bills on time. And, of course, this information, once found, can then be republished by someone else, since it was all legally obtained. Talk about invasion of privacy, once the cat gets out of the bag.

    There is also a sense of safety for some who might not otherwise comment if their real names were known. I sense there may be some who monitor this site, but who do not actively participate, who might be compelled to retaliate against those with differing viewpoints. We saw a sampling of this potential abuse earlier today on another thread.

  43. avatar ESH says:

    Ralph:

    As a longtime reader who has posted here only once or twice, I feel compelled to add to the chorus lauding the value of this site. When possible, I check it daily and almost always discover something of real interest — whether it’s a link to a recently published academic ecology paper, an update on wolf population dynamics in the Rockies, or those occasional photo-essays depicting some stunning piece of Idaho wilderness.

    It’s obvious real work and dedication goes into the provision of this resource, and I respect the breadth of issues addressed. Thanks for all your effort. Whatever you decide to do, this thread — at the very least — seems a fine testament to the diversity and passion of your readers.

  44. avatar JimT says:

    True Story. A friend of mine got a surreptitious visit from the FBI for an online rant about Bush and the war, etc. and went a little overboard with the rhetoric. The FBI guy said he was there to interview for a high level consultant job, but then my friend realized HE was being interviewed, and rather well. He checked out the phone number and other contact numbers the guy listed on his card and resume…they never existed. Search on the Internet…the guy didn’t exist.

    So, be careful out there. Emails are forever.

  45. avatar Todd Wilkinson says:

    Wilderness Muse,
    All this fear: Do we really live in America or in East Germany, circa 1955, under the reign of the Soviets? I, too, have spoken with digital forensic experts as background research for stories I’ve written and they offered me a different take from yours. The internet already is awash with information on all of us, so the privacy issue is moot. And if you want to worry about people lifting personal information, tell it to the millions of people who voluntarily share it, along with photos of themselves on Facebook. A far greater fear should be one of deception. Anonymous commenters are able to cloak hidden agendas, swing the outcomes of elections by being plants of special interests, slander others, spread misinformation with unverifiable sources, and dupe the public without having any accountability. And then there is the growing phenomenon of “trolls” who gain their greatest enjoyment going from site to site mere to incite people. What does it say about our Democracy and our willingness to stand up and take a position as citizens if our two cents are only spoken from the shadows? As I mentioned earlier, a federal employee working for a land management agency and fearful of angering a boss, could get approval from Ralph to be anonymous.

  46. avatar Save bears says:

    I again ask, how do you ensure the information being given is in fact truthful?

  47. avatar Jon Marvel says:

    Ralph:

    This is my first comment on your blog, and I want to use it to say you should make whatever changes you need and keep the blog going.
    It is a great public service !

  48. avatar Richie, Giallanzo,NJ says:

    Ralph you are a great person and a better referee but please do not end this page. I learned so many facts from people such as wm,sb,timz, gline,JB, Linda Hunter, Lin Stone,Layton,nabeki etc. Many times my love of animals gets in the way, having dogs and cats my whole life especially strays, I must say they are like old people and infants can’t protect themselves. I visit this site at least once a day, I must see what is going on with all aspects of the west by your site, you make it very informative. I would have never been fortunate to talk to such a nice guy as JB if was not for you, or found western watersheds or howling for justice . I can say I found friends with wildlife, especially wolves in common here, I can’t even count on one hand people who feel the way I do where I live. So please I know we get on your nerves, but I think I can speak for all of us by saying you are a great wildlife person with a world of patience and a very kind gentleman especially for letting us speak our minds. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Ralph!

  49. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Ralph, I would certainly appreciate it if the blog is left on. I think the best thing to do is to just ban the people who do resort to things like name-calling, and other immature behavior.

  50. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Ralph,
    Please, please do not stop the blog. This is the best of the west information. I need my ‘wolfie’ fix daily. And the fact that you allow both sides of the fence speak up creates better understanding of the issue for thosewho are pro and against. And news from Kathie Lynch…OMG..where am I going to find it.

  51. avatar Todd Wilkinson says:

    “Save bears” asks: “I again ask, how do you ensure the information being given is in fact truthful?”

    That’s the problem isn’t it? All this hearsay coming from people with pseudonyms or assertions being made without people having to cough up their sources.

    I recently read a story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The reporter allowed one of the people he quoted to imply that environmental groups were supporting Montana’s plan to park bison on Ted Turner’s Flying D ranch because they feared that objecting might disqualify them from receiving future funding from the Turner Foundation. The fact is, it’s an absurd allegation that wasn’t true. I would ask the source and the reporter to show me the evidence. Otherwise, don’t put it in the story because it’s irresponsible.

    When people say outlandish or questionable things, they should have their own names attached to the allegations and then have to back them up.

  52. avatar JB says:

    Todd:

    A number of people who comment here can do so BECAUSE they are allowed to maintain their anonymity. Consider that if you work for a state or federal agency you are often not allowed to have an opinion that differs from the “party line”.

    I have made no secret of identity (actually, I used JB because it is what my friends call me). In fact, I’ve posted links to a couple of my articles here when they seemed relevant. If Ralph thinks people should use there real names, that’s fine. But consider that it may stifle some of the information that comes out here.

    Jeremy Bruskotter

  53. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I have to disagree on using your real name. Those of us living in states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and especially in small towns know how rural it is and how it doesn’t take long for people to figure out who is doing what. People could read the comments and use that against you.

  54. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Ralph, I can give you my full name and address.

  55. avatar Erik says:

    Regardless of the comments, I do very much hope you maintain the blog. This is a top news source for me about land and wildlife issues in the West and I would hate to lose it.

  56. avatar Save bears says:

    Todd,

    If I was not involved with a legal battle with the state of Montana, I would be more than happy to provide my real name, but I am not willing to jeopardize my position against them because I may become mad at someone who is posting information that is untrue..

  57. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Todd,

    I don’t wish to get too far off Ralph’s intended track here (which is annoying to a few people). My cautionary words are not about fear. It is about being smart and careful with personal information. Even if your internet mentors are right, there is some effort in getting certain types of information. Why focus it, and why make it easier for them, and for personal abuse that can come from the wrong use of certain information?

    Some of the (naive?) people who voluntarily give more, such as the infamous Facebook you reference, and other “let me tell you about myself/ make a fool of myself” sites have found it to be to their peril. It has come back to bite them. Especially younger or ego-centric people, who have even had job offers retracted when background searches are done. There are also crimes of various types committed against them, and its not just in cyberspace, like identity theft.

    As you know, most newspapers, and for that matter blogs of various types, allow people to post anonymously. In a sense, Ralph’s site, for many of us, myself included, is not a completely anonymous. He has email addresses, personally knows some of us or has reliable knowledge gained from various sources. HE knows who many of us are, and maybe that is all that matters. He has graciously acted as an intermediary, giving personal contact information to other posters, on a need to know basis. Frankly, I like that and do not think it needs to change.

    Last Todd, you do raise good points about broader concerns regarding anonymity and political implications on the internet. But ultimately you and I will have no signficant influence over that. All of this just sets the stage for each of us to be more critical thinkers and challenge what we see written on the internet, in the newspaper, or on this site if Ralph chooses to go forward.

    _______________

    ProWolf,

    You nailed the issue in one sentence. Good for you.

    Long ago I wrote a column, with my name prominently displayed in the publication. It was not about anything we discuss here. I lived in a smller community and ticked off a bunch of thugs who took offense to my criticism of their conduct. They only had to look in the phone book for my address. Two days later, my car had three slashed tires, and it cost me about $500 dollars to get back on the road.

  58. avatar mikepost says:

    Again folks, it is very simple: if you curse or verbally assault someone for expressing a viewpoint, then you are gone. Why is this not workable? I realize that it puts Ralph in a tough spot that he may not wish to occupy. If thats the case, then shut down the comments and keep the posts. If we collectively cannot police ourselves then we deserve what we get.

  59. avatar Todd Wilkinson says:

    Hey fans of Ralph’s blog, Jeremy especially, please don’t interpret my comments as trying to ferret anyone out. Having written a book about whistleblowers, I know the perils of speaking out. It’s just that this element of free speech, which has given Ralph heartburn, cuts close to the work I do as a journalist. I get exercised sometimes thinking about the divisive nature of the blogosphere, and lack of accountability linked to anonymous posting. When I am able to drop in here and read the comments you all provide, I am often impressed at the good thoughts being applied to the issues. I’ve just exhausted my year’s worth of replying! Thanks and adios.

  60. avatar john philip says:

    Ralph – Thank you for this informative, fascinating website. It seems to me like this site is the only place out there that addresses these issues in a clear-eyed, objective manner that puts what passes for journalism these days to shame. As an unabashed, liberal northeasterner that visits the western wildlands every five years or so if I’m lucky, I have not chosen to comment here previously, simply because I’ve never felt like anything I have to say would add to the constructive dialogue here, and I guess I run the risk of embarking on a rant at any given time myself. I haven’t voted for anybody with an “R” after their name since the Salvage Logging Rider of 1994, and I haven’t eaten beef since the Cattlemen’s Association (or whomever) so cynically filed suit to stop the reintroduction of wolves under the ESA. I grew up hunting and fishing, and although I no longer hunt, I have nothing against hunting – at least hunting for meat. I read this site – and most of the comments – everyday. I daresay, its may favorite virtual locale, and I have referred you to friends and family throughout the country. While there are more than a few commentators here that I disagree with – I’d bet on almost everything – very few are disagreeable, and compared to the commentariat on almost any other blog or website that I frequent, the back-and-forth here – even the rants – seems pretty civilized. I can imagine that the rants can become tiresome, and given the vitriol I’ve seen on other sites, I’m sure you get a fair bit of venom that never sees the light of day – or at least any other monitor. I marvel at your energy and dedication and look forward to every post. Anyway, I could go on forever. Whatever you chose to do with your site, I wish you well and thank you for all you’ve done.

    John Philip – CT

  61. avatar Uta stansburyiana says:

    Don’t be discouraged, Ralph.
    Your blog is a treasure.
    This is the only website I know of that has an up to date conversation on public lands grazing.

    I’ve been reading here for a while, but only recently started posting. I wish I didnt have to post anonymously.

  62. avatar steve c says:

    You could close it to new users and allow everyone already approved to keep posting (if that is possible). It isn’t ideal but you wouldn’t have to spend all of your time policing the comments from the people you are already comfortable with on here.

  63. avatar Sal_N says:

    Ralph,

    This has been a gold mine of information from day one.
    I can post with my full name if it is required.
    For the most part I just read the articles and try not to dive into the back and forth, which has gotten ugly at times.
    Allowing us to post comments is a great gift from you to all of us out there and shows me that you have allowed a even exchange of ideas even if they have been over board at times.
    Either way you go, you have provided all of us with great information over the years and my family and I thank you very much for it.

  64. avatar DB says:

    It’s not just name-calling and other immature behavior, it’s about comments which are irrelevant to the article posted. The back and forth between many of the regulars here is usually off topic and is killing the value of your posts. If you don’t start censoring these characters, you’ve lost me. I’m with Jon Marvel, make some changes.

  65. avatar Rusty says:

    Ralph,
    I will visit daily with or without the comments. I greatly appreciate your hard work in maintaining this blog and enjoy your take on the stories.

  66. avatar Chris Harbin says:

    Ralph,
    I can’t add too much to what has already been said regarding the high esteem that people (on many sides) hold this blog. I too wish that sometimes the rhetoric could be more substantial. I do not post often, but apparently there are many who check this site at least once and some several times a day. I’d like to see it continue in it’s present form or at least as a fairly balanced news outlet.
    Nonetheless, you must do what you think best. I hope we get to keep exploring and learning from this blog.

  67. avatar Bob Caesar says:

    As with any “blog” which requires no identification there will be those who are subversive, anti, trouble makers, who will post just to stir up trouble. We sure have those idiots here! They’ll sign on just to stir the pot. To keep us off balance. I can’t imagine people who have nothing better to do….

    On the other hand it isn’t hard to see who these jerks are. I suggest those of us who are concerned and serious about the earth just ignore them. Rather than getting into an argument with an anonymous cowardly/trouble make we should just NOT respond. After awhile they’ll go back to drinking beer and pouring over last season’s Cabela’s catalogue.

    For now Ralph – This is a terrific and valuable site. As my aged Grandma used to say, “Don’t let the bustards git ya down’!

    You remain my environmental hero, after what’s his name that is! So I am forever in your debt!

  68. Everyone,

    I just posted some reflections on today’s discussion back at the top of this post (in red print).

    Ralph Maughan

  69. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Ralph, I like when the open forums are posted. I’m sure I’m not only speaking for myself when I say that I enjoy conversing in those. But I am going to have to not using my full name. 😉

  70. avatar JEFF E says:

    It has taken me some time to digest and consider the ramifications of what Ralph’s saying, but I believe that it is getting overwhelming for just one individual to be the responsible person here and do it as it should be done. At one time, for a short period of time, there were two or three people involved in “moderating” but that has seemed to have gone by the wayside.
    As I have posted here for several years I can say that have been in a few (or more) heated exchanges over the years. For example Layton and I used to go tooth and nail for quite some time and it is probably a good thing we did not know how to get at each other face to face in a few different instances.
    Today, Layton and I talk about getting together on a social level and that could very well happen. It is actually more my reluctance, I think, than his.
    Also, today, as I post I have come to the conclusion that, for me, it is probably best if I just don’t engage with certain posters regardless of which side of the issues they fall on. It just would not get me anywhere or “prove” anything.
    As for posting complete names, I do not think, for me that that is doable. I have seen in other blogs where that has degenerated into accusations, retaliation, posting of sensitive personal information, and a whole host of very hurtful, long term damage done to individuals and their families. And that was over stuff not nearly as controversial as what is discussed here.
    We then have some posters that routinely sink to vulgarity and challenge anyone to do anything about it. Get rid of em, period.
    The occasional well placed profanity is appropriate and is well suited to making a point. Gratuitous use of, is not.
    As some one else said, it should be understood when someone is confronting a position rather than a person.
    Using Mark Gamblin as the example, I have understood from the outset that it is the State of Idaho which is speaking, Not Mark. He has said as much himself.
    Understand that this blog has become a “voice” in political circles. The Idaho State government, Fish and Game Commission, and a great many politically connected individuals monitor or are briefed on the content herein with varying degrees of regularity. I also believe that to be true regionally if not even more widespread. Where else are you going to have posts from Germany, Sweden, Australia and elsewhere on these issues that is not edited by media or government outlets. In addition to reading viewpoints across the spectrum?
    I hope that this blog does not disappear, if for no other reason than to counter he state(s) campaign of misinformation and subterfuge.
    I often come across references to this site on anti- and uneducated sites all the time. Some I bring to Ralph’s attention some I don’t. I hope to be able to continue to do that, Ralph please put yourself, and your family’s health and well being first then make your decision based on that.
    Thank you

  71. Jeff E,

    I do need some help. Ken Cole has been very helpful, but he has a job. Brian Ertz was very active for a while, but then his personal situation changed.

    There is also the question of Mark Gamblin. I have praised him for keeping his cool, but he is the nice voice — the good cop — of Idaho Fish and Game here. Is it proper to have a government spokesman here every day giving any agency’s view?

  72. avatar Dave Ausband says:

    I have been checking your website regularly since 1997 and have appreciated its information as well as its evolution along the way. I agree, things get messy in the comments at times. That said, I frequently glass the comments to get a feel for what folks (generally advocates) out there are thinking. I think you should do what you feel needs to be done to maintain civility. Should you choose to suspend the site entirely, well, I think it would be a great loss.

  73. avatar Gene Estensen says:

    Ralph,

    What would I do without your blog? You are my link to Yellowstone and the Lamar Valley. I check in every day to view the latest news from the West. Keep up this valuable work.

  74. avatar Ron Kearns says:

    I am an adamant 1st Amendment free speech advocate. However, anonymity most often allows unethical persons to harm others through abject ad hominem posts. Strong, reasoned debate is critical when solving many issues in life, although allowing unfounded personal attacks and false statements by anonymous—and sometimes cowardly—purveyors who cannot be effectively traced and confronted is unacceptable and exceptionally unfair.

    A principal tenet of law and justice is that every accused person has the right to meet his accuser (An accused person has the right to confront witnesses against him). On the Internet—and while this should/would never meet the standard of a court room—anonymity precludes that important, fundamental principle of being able to, at a minimum, confront those with a name who would make false statements, claims, or personal attacks against another.

    Mr. Maughan, I have read your site intermittently for well over a year and I recently have increased my frequency here because of the fine articles—especially regarding bighorn. The persons who read your blog daily but who have rarely or have never posted, except for today, are evidence of its exceptional value. I have recommended this site to at least 8 other people and I would not have done so if I did not consider this one of the premier blogs available in the wildlife news niche—your blog is uniquely informative.

    Ron Kearns
    Retired Kofa NWR Wildlife Biologist, USFWS
    Former Federal Collateral Duty Refuge Law Enforcement Officer, USFWS
    Viet Nam Era Veteran, US Army

  75. avatar NW says:

    There have been a lot of good comments on this thread, as usual in my opinion. Having a forum with such a variety of regular followers is a great service. I’ve found myself wondering sometimes who the heck that poster is. That’s part of the fun. In some cases, the handle probably says more about the person than their name would; in other cases the real name might automatically give someone too much or too little credibility. It stands to reason that you put more store in a published, well-researched article than in a midnight posting by booger, but often the posts point to further sources of information. My apologies if there’s someone out there named booger, and thanks to Ralph and all of the posters. Well, most of them.

  76. Ron Kearns,

    I have noticed your recent appearance here and value your comments, really filling in an Arizona hole for me. I’ve been to Kofa once, last February.

    In a way I have always been privileged — professors have more actual freedom of speech (First Amendment aside) than the average person. They are protected by tenure, and for good reason, although in this economy their freedoms are melting away.

    Retired folks like you and I have even more freedom.

    I think I might welcome a new commenter like this, “Welcome to the Wildlife News. You are encouraged to use your real name. It will naturally give you more credibility, but feel free to use an alias if you feel like you need to.”

  77. avatar Save bears says:

    Ralph,

    I don’t blame you one bit for wanting to distance your name a bit from the blog.

    If it were me, I would just call it “Wildlife News” that would allow you to have topics that concern both sides of the issue, without the guise of only one side..

    This is a valuable resources for many around the world, and it needs to stay alive, but allowing it to evolve and grow is important as well, I have only been an active poster for a little over a year now, but have followed your writings and teachings for over a decade now, and would really miss your insight and wisdom..

  78. avatar Ron Kearns says:

    I just read your red-lettered post regarding possible changes.

    I would advise against changing your longstanding ‘brand name’.

  79. avatar Don Riley says:

    “……….Ralph please put yourself, and your family’s health and well being first then make your decision based on that.”
    Jeff E.

    Ralph,
    Jeff has stolen my thunder! Just logged in and found this subject. My first thought was for the welfare of you and your family as well as your ability to get away and do what you want to do for your own mental health.

    I met you through your full color posters documenting the wolf recovery effort. They remain on my den wall, I remain a follower and consider you friend without having ever met you.

    I seldom post. The last one I remember was in response to uneducated posts regarding the the story you ran on Torry & Meredith Taylor, trying to set the record straight on the edification and value they brought to people interested in Wyoming and the Wind River Mountains. If I don’t have something to say on a topic I understand, I won’t.

    You & Ken should set the rules for this forum as you see fit, as they are consistent with the time you choose to devote to this effort, and as the time you can allocate to your family, research and “wild time” allows.

    I also don’t comment on a topic if my ideas have been included in a previous post. Therefore I respectfully request special dispensation from you and Jeff, if you so choose, on this particular post.

    Set your rules. A whole lot of people eagerly await your decision.

    Thank you for your work.,

    Don

  80. Ron Kearns and “save bears,”

    Maybe the “Ralph Maughan’s” font could gradually shrink? 😉

    No really!?

  81. avatar JEFF E says:

    Ralph,
    Let me think about that. I have considered that in depth quite a few times and would like to do a bit of analysis and come up with something coherent, particularly in respect to what I saw and overheard at the public comment meeting.

    It has been a long day for me.

    On the other note I would love to help where I could. Maybe Layton and I could be co-moderators.
    (don’t choke on your spit Layton) 8*))

  82. avatar Ken Cole says:

    I have tried to moderate comments here but I just can’t keep up. I follow about 1/3 of the comments nowadays and I am just as frustrated as Ralph is about this. I think there will have to be some very hard choices made. Unfortunately for Ralph, I’m going on vacation to Hawaii next week and my mind will be on sipping drinks on the beach with my lovely wife and watching for sea turtles and whales. Sorry Ralph 😉

    My thoughts are to be more judicious about what is allowed in the comments and this is a change for me from when it first started as a blog. I was one of the strongest advocates for vigorous debate here and I still am but it has become a bit much for us to moderate and the quality of the debate has declined for it. It seems to me that many of the posts have turned into jabs at other people and less about defending or advocating points of view or real discussion. It gets too personal.

    I have many feelings about this blog but they are hard for me to articulate. All I know is that this blog, and the ability for me to get information out, has become a big part of my life. I have been a reader of the site from the very beginning (1995) and it has profoundly changed my life. I’m extremely proud to be a part of it.

  83. avatar Patrick says:

    I’ve had this website bookmarked for a long time. I read it often, but don’t post much. I value the site for its useful links and generally thoughtful dialogue. Thanks for your efforts, Ralph. Some days I wonder if we all just spent as much time working outdoors, with boots on the ground, to protect and restore our local ecosystems and/or transforming our own landscapes to better mimic natural spaces as we spend in front of the computer getting worked up over the daily dose of bad news and bad manners on the web, the world would be a much better place for it.

  84. avatar Mike says:

    Ralph – Something along the lines of “Northern Rockies Wildlife” might work. But I will have to say that I think you should keep the name. It’s a quality brand at this point. I’ve never thought it was smug or pretentious, just an indentifier. People know exactly what it is when they see it.

  85. avatar Don Riley says:

    PS

    Keep the name!!!!!! Your mom & dad gave it to you, you earned the respect it carries and it is your mind that draws people to you, thirsty for the knowledge to be gained and the changes that need to be made.

    Your humility enhances your credibility.

    Don

  86. Patrick, Don Riley and others,

    I try to get out into the “woods” every day for a couple hours. It really helps my mental state. Fortunately, the woods are pretty close.

    But I don’t always do it! Today after I posted this thread, I went to sports bar, drank some, ate french fries, came home and took a 2 hour nap instead.

  87. Mike,

    Thanks for the name suggestion. I guess it is a brand. That’s good for the blog; maybe bad for me.

    It does have to be something more than “The Wildlife News.”

  88. avatar Ron Kearns says:

    Ralph Maughan wrote:

    “Is it proper to have a government spokesman here every day giving any agency’s view?”
    ___________________

    I do not see a problem/conflict of interest as long as the blog does not surreptitiously become entitled:

    ‘Mark Gamblin’s Wildlife News’

    (Disclaimer: unless your do so officially, amicably, and with full disclosure…)

  89. avatar jburnham says:

    Ralph, I’d rather lose a finger than this blog! I’ve followed your posts for over 10 years and check this site daily. There’s nothing else quite like it. Attacks or off topic comments aside, in my opinion this site is one of the few with comments worth reading.

    As to the task of moderating so many comments, you might want to consider community moderation. WordPress has many plugins to accomplish this (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/comment-rating/), and this site surely has an engaged and invested community.

  90. avatar Paul White says:

    Other poster: “… over a glowing monitor sending their thoughts into cyberspace. Maybe they shold get a pet python (A Really Big One) or something…”

    huh. I have *several* very large pet pythons thank you 😛 and boas, and colubrids of various genera. They enrich my life in ways I cannot explain to people that don’t get it. so please don’t rag on my hobby.

    Ralph; I have read this blog since I first started getting curious about wolf reintroduction…probably back in the late 90s if memory serves. I don’t know what I’d decide in your shoes, but I think many of us will continue to read and appreciate your blog regardless. I do ask that you don’t require full names. There have been cases in other blogs, particularly concerning my field, where I’d have to refrain from any honest or real commenting if my real name was required. I can imagine that numerous people might run into the same issue here.

  91. avatar Paul White says:

    Oh yeah, if you need a moderator I’d be happy to offer an hour or so every evening to sorting through comments. Just give me guidelines to what you want to have or not have on your blog, just as far as comments go.

    There are a few changes you might make on a technical level to ease moderation, threaded comments being probably the biggest one. This makes it lots easier (at least for me) to keep track of who’s going at who, and monitoring iffy situations…

  92. jburnham,

    Thank you. I’ve seen this on some newspaper comment pages.

    This is probably worth a try.

  93. Ralph,
    my two cents,
    I third or forth or whatever the part about not having to give names:

    “we would lose valuable comments from people who would quickly be in trouble with their boss, their customers, their government agency, their relatives, their personal lawsuit, so forth. Some of these comments have given invaluable information.”

    Exactly.
    Some of our jobs are wildlife based and so we have to be careful what we say out here in cyberspace.

    Again, thanks for the blog.

  94. avatar Jason Rasco says:

    Ralph,

    Although I seldom comment, I visit this blog daily (dating back to the old webpage) and it is a major source for news about subjects I am passionate about. I know that there are other outlets, but you have always done a great job of providing information (which seems harder to come by these days). When my wife and I moved to Portland in 2001 I was worried about losing touch with news about public lands not only in Idaho, but the entire ID/MT/WY area. Thanks to your hard work and the others involved this has been my life line for information. Although we love Portland, the wilds of Idaho are never that far away, we return every summer to backpack and during the winter this blog helps me stay connected.

    I’m sure there are many others that visit, but don’t comment. I have also been impressed by the amount people right in the middle of some of these issues that are willing to contribute. There input and knowledge are much appreciated and almost always add to the richness of these discussions. I’m glad Mark Gamblin is wiling to share his thoughts although I am very surprised he does. From my experience state agencies seldom support their employees doing such things.

    Finally, good luck with the discourse thing! As an 8th grade science teacher I am constantly trying to teach my students how to constructively talk about issues and ideas. It is difficult because sometime in the past twenty years or so it has become more important to outshout and threaten others then to actually contribute ideas in ways that will further the discussion.

    Keep up the good work.

  95. Ralph,
    I can understand very well that you are sometimes a bit fed up or frustrated. But……
    I eagerly followed your original web site as t h e reference source for wildlife and conservation news in the American West. It shaped my knowledge and my understanding not only of wildlife conservation in America but also of the culture and society of those “crazy Amis” – and always the command of your language (ah, they say it this way!). When you announced the change to the blog format I was not convinced that this would add quality to the site. I was very well aware how fast a blog could go out of hand. It did not! I do not know if those real strange guys, those that love to comment on the Billings Gazette and other papers sites also show up on your site her. If yes, you´ve always been the buffer between them and us. For sure the quality of this site is not the least because your moderating skills and maybe all those mail thrash you throw into the bin. Labour intensive! Today, I wish we had somebody like you with such an important tool and such a diversity of valuable contributors here in Europe. Unfortunately blogs in general are not yet very popular here and those we have are rather boring and uninspiring. He Ralph, seems it´s your mission! (And keep that “Ralph Maughan´s” label – it’s a landmark!)
    Kind reagards
    Peter

  96. avatar Kevin Jamison says:

    Gosh, Ralph, I visit nearly every day. I rarely read the comments, I just link to the stories. It would be a great loss to me.
    I guess we should all be ashamed of ourselves. The problem with that is many aren’t ashamed by anything. Greed, total disrespect for the commons, that’s hard to forgive.
    I’m doing it, aren’t I?
    Maybe, like Marvel, we on the side of the land should give up on “evenhandedness”and go all out.

  97. avatar matt bullard says:

    Ralph – community moderation would be excellent. I read the blog every day. I generally stop following the comments after about 5 or 10 have been posted, unless it is a thread that is particularly interesting. I stopped posting myself when I sensed that my point of view was not welcome or tolerated – it just got too tiresome and stressful to keep up with the energy, but I’ve noticed that some folks have gone away or perhaps restrained themselves. This is a great site and I value most your analysis and perspective on the stories you post. There are several others, Ken included, whose contributions I find valuable and positive, even if I don’t always agree. I hope you can find a way to maintain this community, and that the community can find a way to maintain some degree of civility in the discussions…

  98. avatar JimT says:

    – – – – – – – – – –

    “””1. Everyone’s full name.

    There’s no doubt this would calm things down quickly. However, we would lose valuable comments from people who would quickly be in trouble with their boss, their customers, their government agency, their relatives, their personal lawsuit, so forth. Some of these comments have given invaluable information””””””.

    I agree.

    “””””I will encourage you to use your full name, and I can ferret out fake full names. No doubt it will give your remarks more authority. That’s just natural.”””””””

    I am not sure a name gives credibility to a comment; the substance of the comment does more. I also get concerned about the forever quality of emails. If you require full names, is there any way for you to delete the emails from your server so there is no permanent record? That might give some more reassurance.

    “””””2. Folks who go over the edge.

    Most everyone gets irritated and lets out a rant against someone (who might well deserve it). About a dozen regulars have gotten email from me at one time or another, and I have suspended some and removed others permanently. Some have really gotten angry (it helps if my email is plenty nice); others come right around.”””””

    It would be helpful if you or Ken or others who have authority on this blog to post what you mean by “over the edge”. It is a complicated thing to draft guidelines or rules that keep things civil, but don’t chill discussion. Ultimately, it is your blog and your opinions that count most, and I know most if not all folks here would trust your judgment.

    “”””””I think sometimes a person has had a bit too much to drink when they comment””””””.

    Possible, especially when it seems that most activity is at night time. Not possible for me…I have a wife, whom you know, who demands attention…;*) and I like having my evenings with her.

    “”””””For just a while, I hope, I’m going to have to be more aggressive reminding people. Some are not going to like this. My apologies in advance. Some are going to go away real soon. Another problem is “thread-breakers.” Let’s say there is a good discussion of recreation fees going, and someone makes a good comment but it’s totally off the subject. Something needs to be done about that.”””””””

    I think thread breaking is the number one problem with internet groups, with personal attacks a close second. I don’t see much profanity on this list, so I don’t think that is a problem that needs addressing. Perhaps more open discussion posts, or perhaps, if the software permits it, a comment can be “recommended” to be taken to an open discussion thread. The problem for me..and I freely admit to it…is the issues here are complicated and interwoven and dynamic, just like the natural systems that give rise to them. So, while a story may be about wolves, it can relevant for comments to morph into rancher’s ethics, or the state wildlife agency’s history, etc. I don’t know how you make those judgment calls, to be honest.

    “””””””3. I want to change the name of this blog.

    “Ralph Maughan’s” Wildlife News might make me seem like an ego-maniac. Actually it is just a historic accident. My old web site was created for me way back in 1995. The person who made that site named it after me. Soon it started to be picked up by the search engines, and I kept that name to maintain ranking.

    This is no longer necessary. I’d like to get rid of the “Ralph Maughan” in the name. I don’t want personal attention. However, what should it be called?””””””

    Will you lose visibility if your name is gone? Wildlife news is a pretty common term on the Net, and the blog may get lost on Google, or other search engines. I would like to think there are hundreds more out there who would like to find access to this blog. Name changing is a dicey business; it took years for folks to put together the old Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund with EarthJustice (a name, I think, that requires an echo and a repeat like the old Justice League cartoons.:*))

    Perhaps the more creative folks can help come with a new name that captures the specialness of this blog…

    One question. Is there a way to submit stories for your consideration to be included on the blog besides emailing you privately? I have used this course in the past, but I hate the idea of adding more email to a personal acccount.

    My thoughts on your thoughts. Whatever you decide, it will be well thought out, but not everyone will agree. So it goes.

  99. avatar Nature rules says:

    Ralph, I appreciate this blog, it is very informative. I would not know of wild life and wild lands issues in states if not for this blog. It is the nature of the beast to disagree, does not matter what side you are on, these are touchy issue that need to be addressed. Each side is passionate on what they believe. Please do not close it down, or change it. I like it the way it is. I admit I don’t comment much anymore, not due to what folks say, just that most of the time the articles are negative and disturbing to me, seems as though not too many states, feds, or regular folks care about wild life or lands anymore, they just want to profit from them….I appreciate all that you do for them and for telling the truth. And maybe folks in Idaho need to quite hiding and stand up for what the believe in, even if it means they will be ridiculed from it by their neighbors. Saying or doing nothing due to fear of disagreement, is worse than doing nothing at all.

  100. avatar Jon Way says:

    Ralph,
    I would agree to keep it as your name too (maybe font reduced like you say). Western wildlife news is a little generic but it also doesn’t fully encapsulate your blog’s content as you incl. news from throughout the country and sometimes the world, esp. as far as carnivores are concerned.
    Great work and revising the way that the blog is moderated will hopefully keep it going as the service you provide is important for many reasons ranging from personal levels (ie, interest) to affecting management practices by keeping agencies accountable for their actions.

  101. avatar Leslie says:

    Hi Ralph, Although I don’t comment much, I regularly read the blog. I highly appreciate how you gather information around our area and I depend on it for real news of what’s going on.
    As far as the comments, there are a lot of knowledgeable people who post here and I learn a lot from reading their input and comments. As a reader of comments, its easy enough for me to ignore the nastiness that sometimes crops up. But maybe that’s why I’m timid to post much here. Regardless, those who are bold enough to engage teach me volumes about many different subjects. Hope you decide to keep it up.
    Best, Leslie

  102. avatar bob jackson says:

    Concerning the need to list names of those blogging:

    I believe there is always the need for deep throats but just by reading the sheer numbers of those fearful for their jobs…and Ralph’s acknowledgement of what would be lost if some of those informers had to come out of the closet….tells me there is continued huge problem in the biologist field…and govt. in general. There are remedies.

    When my salting issue was going coast to coast in the press I’d have, more than even I thought possible, biologists in the “system”….those I had no knowledge of, even those higher up in administrative offices, call me out of the blue and soon tell of what was happening to them. I’d get the calls of biologists who had already been pushed to the sidelines of effective occupation …. who in multiple numbers say things like, “Yellowstone ruined me. I am blackballed forever” or someone from the BLM saying the over and over…or another from the F.S. in Oregon.

    Some wanted help in how to maintain personal integrity inhouse, others wanted to know how I was allowed to speak directly to the press while their watchdog sponsors wouldn’t let them do so, but most just had horror stories to tell and no way to speak out without certain retaliation.

    There was and still is a LOT of fear out there and some feel the only recourse is to type from the closet to get the word out. Does it work? To some. And even then these “higher standards” ones are vulnerable to sabbatoge by those above who profess feelings and compassion …. or from special interest non profits who really are the same predators on these desperate “professional” souls. These no way to turn folks are preyed upon by those govt higher ups who want to advance in the same dysfunctional system by tattling on those who confide…or the environmental non profits who care most about themselves and cast the deep throat, or stand up to what is right govt. employee, aside when the need for organizational exposure is accomplished

    I have to say from experience of seeing others being closet queens there is little personal emotional gain with continued bitterness at heart. Common cause, such as the French underground of WWII, yes, but what personal gain is accomplished with revenge? Or capitulating to loss of career advancement?

    Yes, intrigue will always be there and there will always be nashing of teeth, but the solution for those in govt. or academics, those biologists, or scientists or professors who have no other option to go to job wise than a capitulated corporation rubber stamp environmental abuse biologist position, is in having the ability to dissent inhouse no different than the minority does in any supreme court decision.

    It is the only way. And by not encouraging or letting “subordinates” be aware of this avenue the administator or supervisors of those subordinates are all saying, “I have mastery over all of you peasants”.

    For example for those of you reading this from Idaho G&F, do you feel those in MSG’s regional office encourage WRITTEN dissent or is it the old, “We have to all be together on this” or “just do as your supervisor tells you to do” (meaning of course that supervisor gets his marching orders from regional or state office and thus you do exactly as this higher being dictates). Or is it the old understanding of, “going along to get along”.

    None of this is good for the soul and unless there are measures like this actually supported from above you end up like Yellowstone tried to do to me….place a gag order on me from talking to the press whether I was off duty, note I spoke in a capacityof only my personal views or whether I was actually on the pay roll at the time. It went against all freedoms but they still tried to do it.

    It can be pretty scary out there for those of you who have to resort to closet talk, but I say persist. Keep pushing for your value as an equal person who has the right to have valued input. Put your dissent or decisions of your office or agency you don’t agree with in writing even if it is limited to chain of command inhouse (but make sure those writings are operationally filed at some level of still higher up perusal).

    In my case after it was all over all Park personnel offices had to inform all employees and all new seasonal or new employees they had the right to talk with any press as long as they stated it was their own views. Of course without a comprehensive systems overhaul even this jester was limiting in effectiveness long term….but it does show little steps for mankind does work.

    I say if you feel intimidated for your career or families well being it is a wake up call to do something about it. If not for youself then for your family. I say think of McFly in the movie Back To The Future, where he says to his son after Biffs humiliation , “I just can’t take confrontation”.

  103. avatar Kropotkin Man says:

    Ralph,

    I just picked-up on this site within the last year.

    I’d miss the forum very much if it were to go away.

    It does get a tad rowdy but it’s to be expected given the issues. I can say it’s better than many sites. Egos should be checked at the door.

    Not all of us can provide our names to the public for reasons stated above.

    I hope you’ll find a way to keep the site running.

    Thank you very much. I look forward to participating in the future.

  104. avatar Shirley Bish says:

    Ralph,
    I have only commented here maybe twice in all the years of following the valuable information you provide on your site. I come to this site daily, every morning with my coffee in tow……like I’m reading my morning news. I would have to find another morning routine if you decide to stop the site. I know I take alot of things to heart and would rather tell my family, friends and customers without fanning the fire on your website….as I’ve seen some pretty heated conversations. I would hate to see it go away, because I do come to your site daily to see what is the latest news on the wolves and other wildlife. I visit Yellowstone once a year (if not twice) and am my husband and I are seriously looking to move to Montana. Infact, as a wolf watcher, I have heard your name many times mentioned, while in the park, of people telling one another about your site. So don’t change the name of the site…people know and recognize the name…and they too have found your site to be very informative. But if this is affecting your health and/or the well-being of you or your family, then everyone understands the choice you must make. Whatever you do, I’ll be watching till I can’t lurk here anymore.

  105. avatar gline says:

    Ralph and others:
    Maybe there is no point in allowing public comment on this blog. Or, as I am reading, much desire at this point for censoring and cutting out the “offenders”. I haven’t seen any cursing, but some name-calling, sarcasm and domination of a few. The information is very useful and one hit spot for good environmental news. I would not want to lose that. There are many experienced and knowledgeable people that comment on here that serve as a daily source of inspiration and hope. In this day and age, that is priceless. So, for some, it may not be just about facts.

    Requiring real names would definitely change the personal attacks, and this idea has been requested by some in the past. I can also see the need for some to keep safely undercover, as mentioned. I would give my real name and stand by what I have said for the past three years and now. I am not afraid to speak my truth or radical views, even if I am in the minority. However, I do agree with JimT above about thread breaking- some subjects naturally relate to others.. so when do you draw the line?

    It will be interesting to see the new tone of this blog in a couple of weeks. I am thinking it will be much more middle of the road because of the desire to cut down on arguments. My disappointment would be if there was the loss of vigorous debate and the censoring different ideas/thoughts.

  106. avatar Roy says:

    ” My disappointment would be if there was the loss of vigorous debate and the censoring different ideas/thoughts. ”

    God forbid this ever happens to this most honest and highly esteemed blog site..

    Ralph wouldn’t think of it.. Lol..

    Roy, your earlier comments this week were not put through because I couldn’t make any sense of them. You are now welcome. Hopefully you will comment usefully and if you use your real name that would be great. Ralph Maughan

  107. Gline,

    Although I don’t intent it, I will predict the blog will become more middle of the road.

    There is a problem of how do you deal with ideas (coming from any direction) that maybe 90% of the blog participants think have no merit, or more likely reflect ethical values that others just either accept or reject with no rational way to convince or unconvince others?

  108. avatar Richie, Giallanzo,NJ says:

    Ralph again your site is extremely important, their are wildlife issues that are common to your briefs like ,NRDC,defenders, and Earthjustice being the best, but only quaterly. Now the threads bring in more news and many times more important up to date daily news. Your news article are on a daily basis too, this is most important. I cannot describe to you how important you are to us who post here. You are the daily pipeline, that lets us all be aware of what is occuring with our wildlife and the environment. In the meantime I can tell you what is occuring with the bear hunt in New Jersey and our water ways like shark river in Neptune. Water in New York in the past was much better than it is now due to industrialization, but now I am getting into my backround working for D.E.P. water supply. In essence New York state and the townships sold land built into malls and golf courses and did not do a proper environmental study. The golf course was built near the mouth of the waterway,with all that fertilizer to keep the course green. So again we need this site and most of all you Ralph.

  109. avatar robert Hoskins says:

    You can either have vigorous, lively debate, or you can go middle of the road. But you can’t have both. I have no interest in the latter.

    RH

    • Robert,

      I think I misstated, failed to elaborate or you didn’t understand what I meant. You have strong views and and incredible amount of information. The powers that be in Wyoming clearly don’t like you, but I suspect your views are close to the middle on this blog. By middle-of-the-road I didn’t mean wishy-washy thoughts, and I didn’t say I wanted to go that direction. I just made a prediction.

  110. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    My views are based in the public trust and the common interest, and I act in ways to put those principled ideas into practice. I give little thought as to where they might or might not fit on some preconceived political scale, or worse, with the politics du jour. I’m interested in the permanent things, not the expedient ones. I have no respect for expediency, which is what I mean by middle of the road.

    RH

  111. avatar Michelle says:

    While I’ve never commented on anything here before, I did want to express my appreciation for this blog. I found this site when I was looking for information on the Yellowstone wolves to satisfy the fascination of my 8 year-old son. Kathy Lynch’s updates can’t come often enough for him. I now come to the site daily and have learned so much, not only about wolves, but about bighorns and bison and politics in the West and…

    Whatever you decide regarding comments (And comments can be both an educational blessing and a curse!), I hope that you will at least keep the site going and continue posting articles. And thank you for the time you have put into this endeavor.

  112. Robert,

    That’s not what I meant by middle-of-road, and gline might have been something else entirely.

  113. avatar Ron Kearns says:

    Ralph wrote:

    “Do Ken or I need to create more “open forums” where people can write what they want to write about at the time?
    ___________________

    Ralph and Ken,

    My suggestion is *not* to have an ‘open forum’ because there is where the cowboy rowdiness’ will reside—Yee-Haw! However, have a separate section of your blog where each poster can submit a link to related article or a new article—no comments allowed—just links.

    Your blog is fast moving and you and staff mostly choose among the many relevant topics very well. If you see a link that we post that is especially apropos, then you could include it in the main blog topic section.

    I would also encourage others to *Search* for an already posted topic and then add to that post to help resolve the thread with updates and perhaps conclusions. I did that with the Macho B debacle. Then you can decide if the topic needs renewed center page coverage.

  114. Ron Kearns,

    Thanks for the idea. I would never have thought of this.

  115. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    Open Forums are interesting to read, although they tend to fade away into the same old back and forth after a while.

    I value the opportunity they present to ask any question even trivial ones..like ‘what is a good book on _____ and get responses presenting perspectives I would of never imagined. For me it is a chance to tap into the huge amount of knowledge and experience we have here for my own personal gain. It has helped with my homewor from time to time as well 🙂
    Perhaps a Q&A Format? rather than a free for all?

    I really like the link idea Ron provided!

  116. Nathan Hobbs,

    I just implemented Ron Kearns idea. There are no comments yet. Let’s see how it works?

    Thanks for your suggestions.

  117. avatar SAP says:

    Ralph – my two cents: I think your site is invaluable, not just for the news but for a lot of the discussion in the comment section.

    I have been critical in the past of the way some comment threads seemed to go. Here is something I said on another thread, almost a year ago:

    ” the discussions that ensue are often very helpful in improving my understanding and honing my thinking.

    Maybe other people come here just to have their own positions & values emphatically affirmed & reinforced instead of challenged; I don’t know. Some folks seem to want this forum to be a cyber “war room” for activist strategies, but I think the more astute recognize that a public blog is not the place for that.

    Making progress on wildlife conservation — particularly with large carnivores — is a complex, multi-faceted challenge. There are no easy answers, in particular because there is not consensus on what our goals really are. And in a free(er) society, we tolerate a diversity of opinions about what our collective goals ought to be. We’re not going to get rid of those who disagree with us — so we ought to work on understanding each other, working collectively to solve tangible problems, and behaving civilly even when we find that our differences are profound and irreconcilable (think of that old cartoon of the coyote & the sheep dog).

    The eminent philosopher Karl Popper wrote that “a discussion between people who share many views is unlikely to be fruitful, even though it may be pleasant; while a discussion between vastly different frameworks can be extremely fruitful, even though it may sometimes be extremely difficult.””

  118. avatar SAP says:

    Two cents more:

    Many years ago (43 actually), Stephen Stills recorded an interesting song that contained this passage:

    A thousand people in the street
    Singing songs and carrying signs
    Mostly say, ‘hooray for our side’

    If I had to pinpoint one serious problem on this and other internet comment areas, it would be the high volume of “hooray for our side” postings. They inflame the other side, they aren’t really substantive, they reduce politics to pep rally.

    As a guideline (not a rule) to commenters, I would ask them to think carefully about what they’re posting and why.

    Another guideline: unless the new story is about world human population growth, refrain from ranting and raving about it.

    Finally, on the subject of using one’s real name, I am not comfortable doing that. I have had two many run-ins with crazies over the past 20 years; they distort what I say, make all sorts of assumptions, and get people riled up. I am not afraid for my personal safety, I am afraid of Tim Sundles-type cowards who might harm my furry “children.” I am also concerned about reprisals and rumor campaigns from those who are ostensibly on “my side,” but who try to exercise Stalinist thought control. Paranoid? Maybe. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re NOT out to get you!

  119. Having been on the losing end of censorship by the NY Times blogs more than once (perfectly good entries lost in mediation forever), perhaps because of my affiliation with Western Watersheds Project, I would caution against too much filtering. It will still the breath of freshness that your blog always enjoys.

  120. Ralph: you do a great job as does Ken and Brian as your cohorts – perhaps you need to get Ken and his wife to take you for a breather in Hawaii?

    cheers and thanks

  121. avatar tom says:

    Ralph,
    If you close the blog then the hate will still go on. At least with your site those of us who do not know the information that is out there will be deprived of it..

    If you want to make a change remove all comments that contain very derogatory messages or include the words : I hate”
    Thanks for the info I have gotten to this point
    Tom

  122. avatar Jamie Archer says:

    I come here as often as I can, at least weekly. I have never commented before. When I discovered this blog my initial thoughts were “finally someone who sees environmental issues the way I do!” It would be a shame to discontinue this blog because it truly is unique. We need you!

  123. avatar vickif says:

    Ralph,
    I am quite certain I have been the source of a verbal riot here, a time or two. But in the end, this blog is one of the rare places where left and right can talk, and learn from one another.
    Additionally, after those verbal tiffs which have occured, I have always benefited from the facts been given in the name of proof.
    I cuss like a sailor, but do try not too, except for the occasional ‘damn’ and s*&^, which are never directed at a person. But, the thing about words is, you can use complteley sterile words…and they can still be ‘dirty’ in their intent and reception. I guess that is the product of perception.
    I find the blog to be a fine source of pro-active comingling. Even when sticks and stones are tossed out, we all benefit from the opportunity to atleast read and establish an opinion.
    I have been, maybe more often than most here, on both sides of some debates. I have been a backer of a few frequently opposed folks (Ryan and Layton), and I have also went toe to toe with them. But I have never had disrespect for their ability to express their opinions, or willingness to do so.
    I appreciate, with great sincerety, the sacrafice which you must make often in effort to bring both sides of the isle together here. In would actually seem a thankless job, were it not a job done with great inspiration that is contageous.
    I say, no mandatory real names. Because people should speak freely here, without fear of ramifications outside of the cyber world. I would hope they could find enough courage to voice themselves in other ways upon meeting others with common interests via the site.
    I would say, no name calling. And, if you say you have a credntial, back it up. If you have a ‘beef’, deal with it by being persuasive and constructive, and by realizing one opinion is simply one…not the only. Be adults here, and shame on all of us who may have pushed the envelope too far. My apalogies for having any contributory part in that.
    This is a good resource, and excellent site, and a dang fine place to learn about the rest of societies position!
    Thanks!
    Respectfully,
    Vicki F

  124. avatar John Lasseter says:

    I’ve been a follower of this site since it started in 1995, and in many ways, it was responsible for my education about western land use issues (I already had an interest then, but I’d never been west of Iowa at the time). In that sense, it’s a big part of the reason I eventually moved to Oregon. Thanks for that.

  125. avatar Rich McCrea says:

    Howdy Ralph

    I go to this website often for conservation and wildlife news, for the western United States. There is no other place to go that has so much information.

    As far as the comments, I like the discussion back and forth. There will always be some that get carried away and there is no way to stop them other than to totally block them, and that is very common on other web sites.

    Change the name..that is ok but leave the rest of the blog as is! I really enjoy it!

  126. avatar Rich McCrea says:

    as far as making folks use their real names…I am against that. The folks that work for federal and state agencies will probably no longer want to speak freely. The majority of them.

  127. avatar gline says:

    Ralph, One more comment before I go to Hawaii…and I will wait to see if you cut it or not…

    “Middle of the Road” for me is a whitebread blog where radical views (left and right) are cut, and the mediator(s) is showing an obvious favoritism (perhaps unconsciously or consciously) to create what their sense of the standard of their blog. This does create a certain select community, not an open democracy. And, if the mediator disagrees with the commenter’s opinion, the mediator can delete it, making life much easier.

    One of my comments about fear of speaking up has already been “mediated” or deleted yesterday- this smacks of “middle of the road” to me. Must of have been a thread breaker? It seemed related to me.

    I agree with RHoskins- no middle of the road for me….

  128. avatar timz says:

    I read a quote from some old politician years ago who said “being middle of the road just means you don’t really stand for anything” Sorry, I have forgotten who it was.

  129. avatar DB says:

    It’s not about not tolerating extreme views, or of being “middle of the road”, it’s about views that are not relevant to the subject. Ever listen to “Talk of the Nation” on NPR? When ever a caller gets off-subject the host Neal Conan cuts them off immediately. That would be nice on some of the threads here.

  130. avatar harold says:

    Ralf
    I now understand why some Blogers don:t want to use their real name because they are working for the Federal , State or other agency.
    As a Bloger, I feel it would be very interested to know where the Bloges are coming from { Idaho, Utah. Ect] This along shows how much interest you RALPH MAUGHANE WILD LIFE NEWS. It goes around the world.
    Change it if it needs to be, Thank you Harold

  131. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    timz:

    Being “middle of the road” meant that Sandra D. O’Connor was the deciding vote in many of the most controversial cases in the previous decade. Just something to consider.

  132. avatar mikepost says:

    One advantage of leaving things as they are is subtle but important. Each of us could name a short list of folks on this blog whom we know will respond emotionally and perhaps irrationally to comments on their “hot button” interests. Some even resort to name calling and profanity. What is valuable about this is that it provides a window into the character and professionalism of the individual make those kinds of comments. You can make a fairly accurate assessment about who you would (and more importantly would not) want on a professional panel, participating in a study, co-writing an article or public comment response, joining in an organized protest, be cited as a reference or asked to join a advocacy group. This does not mean there are not some brilliant minds out there hidden under the mantle of incivility and immaturity, it just means that those folks are high risk loose cannons that may very well inadvertently help the enemy more than they help you and yours. In the long run, thats good information to have. Some of these folks even manage to punch my own ‘hot buttons” at times but I don’t even bother to respond to them because all that will come of it is a school yard verbal brawl that will neither educate or clarify the issue at hand and only help to bring us closer to the dumbing down of this blog as being debated here right now.

  133. DB,

    Thanks for your comment. Gline didn’t understand what I was saying in my comments about middle of the road. To rephrase, I am not aiming for middle of the road. I just predicted that that might happen, nor am I censoring “radical” comments.

    If I think a comment is well written but wrong, I’m likely to make my own comment in opposition to it.

    I think some of this relates to the recent posting of the names of hunters who killed wolves in Idaho and Montana. Folks can argue that this was a great idea, and I won’t cut them off, if they say why. However, my view is that it was a horrible idea because it

    1. Increases hostility over the issue with no offsetting benefits for any side.
    2. Encourages wolf poaching rather than legal hunting. Poachers don’t get named in the media. Those who obeyed the law might get harassed.
    3. Encourages people who hate wolves to take similar action against those who support wolves. Nasty tactics spread.

  134. avatar Ken Cole says:

    I think also, gline, that it’s about the outright nastiness that goes on here and the feeling by some that this blog should only be about what they want it to be about. I can think of a few whoppers on here from both sides.

    I’ve called people names (like redneck) and used some foul language in the past here but I have refrained from that for a long time because I don’t think it adds to the debate and this site has many more comments and readers. I use my real name now because I work for WWP and don’t have to worry about losing my job like I did when I worked for IDFG.

    Also, I think the debate becomes too personal which doesn’t help the debate either. This isn’t the Idaho Statesman or the Billings Gazette where I see people like foreignoregonian or Marion make either useless or baseless comments. I think people should think about how their comments add to the debate rather than distract from it or turn it into personal attacks. Frankly, I don’t care who likes who, just that the debate remains civil. It gets a bit much and boring to read.

    Maybe, rather than attacking people who disagree, people should give a valid argument as to why you disagree with them.

    There was once a post somewhere that I read long ago about how to tell if someone didn’t have anything to add to a debate. It revolved around people calling people or groups names and using arguments about Nazis. I wish I could find it.

  135. avatar timz says:

    “Being “middle of the road” meant that Sandra D. O’Connor was the deciding vote in many of the most controversial cases in the previous decade. Just something to consider.”

    Poor example IMHO, judges aren’t suppose to be anything, just decide based on the law and constitution regardless of their personal position. Of course we all know that’s not the reality of it.

  136. avatar vickif says:

    I don’t think ‘middle of the road’ is always horrible, if it is a place where two sides agree to meet.
    I don’t think I have called anyone a name. I have called some politics, and some legislation a few names (with the key letters altered).
    Passion creates action. I you have no passion, you have no purpose.
    I would rather be surrounded by a room of people who opposed me and gave me valid reasons why, then stand lined up with a bunch of ‘Stepford’ minded people who had no real view or mind of their own.
    This site is ‘middle of the road’ in the sense that Ralph neither punishes those who see it differently, nor does he allow verbal assaults on them. So there is a common ground where people can come to discuss things.
    As far as changing the name, well, Ralph you have created a legacy and with it comes name recognition.
    And, as far as having regular input from a government employee (Game and Fish), why not? It helps clarify and define the methodolgy taught to, and maintained by, the government which is in essence our employee. It may help to gain insight on how to effect change. I am all for that.

  137. avatar Cobra says:

    Ralph,
    I do not post to often but I do enjoy your site. It helps me see where middle of the road is by knowing the extremes of both sides of the issues. For example: I feel wolves should be hunted, but I do have issues with wiping out entire packs, I feel it’s way overboard. To me that’s middle of the road and disagree with what in my tiny mind would be extreme by either side. Many things in the outdoor world can simply not be one way or the other and by reading posts here on your site it helps me see where some of the extreme lines are on all the issues that come through.
    Do what you have to do to keep your sanity and also I would like you to give Si’vet my e-mail if you have the time.
    Thanks for a good place to come and visit Ralph.

  138. avatar bryantolsen says:

    Ralph
    I have been reading your reports for years, starting on the old website, and have always found it a great place for information,especially watch dogging of what the various management agencies are doing with our land and wildlife. when you first switch over to the blog format,I really didn’t like it just because of all the rightwing AND leftwing nutjobs mouthing off about whatever their political agenda maybe. It seemed to be very distracting from the actual facts of whats going on. Only very recently have I even started commenting. But do know there are probably many others out there who read this that don’t get drawn into the comments. I do like having the option to read comments, but its the information you post that is what matters, so please keep it coming in one format or another. Were else would we get our REAL news?

  139. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Timz:

    Funny, I think it’s a good example for the very same reasons. Like Supreme Court judges we all have our own biases; often, but certainly not always, the folks in the middle decides the issue.

  140. Cobra,

    I think your comments and gline’s (and others too) show where the middle of the road is located is not a definable, measurable, clear location.

  141. bryantolsen,

    The use statistics that WordPress keeps show you are right that most readers comment rarely or not at all.

  142. avatar Ryan says:

    Ralph,

    I have found that the middle of the road is arbitrary at best. Understanding of each others positions and driving factors behind those positions is the best one can hope for with topics as hotly debated as these.

  143. avatar jerryB says:

    “I think some of this relates to the recent posting of the names of hunters who killed wolves in Idaho and Montana. Folks can argue that this was a great idea, and I won’t cut them off, if they say why. However, my view is that it was a horrible idea because it

    1. Increases hostility over the issue with no offsetting benefits for any side.
    2. Encourages wolf poaching rather than legal hunting. Poachers don’t get named in the media. Those who obeyed the law might get harassed.
    3. Encourages people who hate wolves to take similar action against those who support wolves. Nasty tactics spread.”

    Ralph …is this a personal opinion of both you and Ken, a consensus of the “coalition”(of which your group is a member and you’re on the board) and pressure from them, or both?
    Before you and Ken threw 2 good people and passionate wolf advocates “under the bus”, might it have been a good idea to get their reasoning for posting the names before publicly humiliating them?
    I’m aware of some of the valid reasons, but I won’t waste more time today trying to justify it to this lynch mob.
    Nabeki and Rick were chatised because maybe they’re sick of the “middle of the road” approach, as many of us are, which has done nothing to increase tolerance of wolves and has resulted in more killings. But then, maybe that’s the purpose of coalitions and some individual decisions……accept the status quo and sit around singing” kum-by-ah” while the wolves are slaughtered.
    Choamsky wrote>>”They’ll never be another revolution in America because of sports”. Well, he could have added that we also don’t have enough people willing to “STAND FOR SOMETHING”.
    Thanks Nabeki and Rick for “sticking your neck out”
    Jerry Black

  144. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Jerry:

    I think you’re overreacting to Ralph’s position. He hardly threw Nabeki and Rick “under the bus.” He merely expressed the opinion that posting people’s names has no upside, strategically speaking. Frankly, I agree with him. While I can see why someone would chose to do it (i.e. out of pure frustration), I do not see any advantage–anything good–that could come out of such an action.

  145. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    I would add that, there are worse things to stand for than a rational, well-reasoned approach to political advocacy.

  146. avatar Virginia says:

    There is a saying to the effect “sitting on the fence only gives you splinters.” I guess I can’t sit on the fence when it comes to advocating for wildlife.

  147. avatar Their Real Name says:

    This blog gives the minority a chance to speak to like minded people….who seemed surprised that the majority opinion is represented in court decisions….but if it makes people feel good to speak to the small choir….Keep it going by all means!

  148. avatar tom says:

    So..what is the right way to fight for our cause? Sitting and talking did not bring any good results. Being polite and trying to reason did not bring any results.
    Somehow we are not getting across the river. And the wolf killers are…
    Maybe it is time to get nasty. I prefer the peacefull solution, but I see no light at the end of thhis tunnel..

  149. avatar Jon says:

    Tom, there is no right way to fight for our cause. I think no matter what you do, things won’t change. Sitting and talking is not gonna solve anything in my opinion nor is calling hunters names or getting into an argument with them. I myself am quite disgusted that hunters are allowed to take the lives away from wolves for basically sport or whatever bogus reason they claim, but I can’t do anything about it. I hope they get put back on the esl soon, the wolves that is.

  150. avatar Jon says:

    I also want to say I don’t think Ralph threw anyone under the bus. He knows Nabeki is a passionate wolf lover. I just think he disagrees with what she did simply because he feels that it will not do anything for her cause. Nabeki and others are quite disgusted and angered by what is going on with these hunts and with what wildlife services is doing. I think people should cut her some slack if they have any problems with her. I also want to say Ralph is a very good man who brings up very important information about wildlife issues. I think the wolves is a very touchy subject for some. I know it is for me. In the end though, I don’t think bickering or the arguing with do much for anyone’s cause.

  151. avatar izabelam says:

    Jon,
    So, we just should take it as it is and sit down and say..well..can’t do nothing about it.
    And wolves are dying and coyotes are dying and we sit and wait for what….we ned some movement. Bickering will not help, sitting and doing nothing will not help either.
    Waiting for the Judge to make a decision is painful and I have a bad feelings he will rule agianst us.

  152. avatar Jon says:

    Izabelam, I don’t think there is much we can do about it. This is just my opinion. I hope the judge puts the wolves back on the list, but if he doesn’t, I won’t really be surprised or shocked. I’m gonna post a something Carter Niemeyer wrote about wolves.

    Can we manage wolves like we do bears and cougars?
    I can understand the concept of just managing their numbers, but wolves run in packs, where bears and lions are solitary animals. So there’s a contradiction there to some degree. And another concern I know that a lot of people look at, too, is that you go from a protected listed species, 1,600 wolves, to proposals of killing several hundred just in a matter of the following hunting season. And, again, that seems to contradict “we’re going to manage like bear and lions,” because you don’t set harvest quotas that high for bear and lion populations. You have to look at numbers, because that’s your database that you’re working with, and verbal assurances are one thing, but those assurances can change due to politics.

  153. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    Tom – maybe I (a wolf neutral) can help. Not sure exactly what you want when it comes to wolves in the Northern Rockies however, the wolves are recovered – at least to the extent that they can be – look at the reality of the situation, conflicts and yes the political landscape. This is not a wolf loving country or there would have been no need to reintroduce, this is a nature taming society we live in – and despite that, wolves have been brought back – reintroduction has been a success – you are a winner and should be truly happy and appreciative of that fact. Moving forward, unless you want a wolf on every corner what is there to get “ugly” about anyway – you and those that have worked hard on this issue have won – congrats – now just work hard to be a good steward of the victory.

  154. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    Some people have a superiority complex, victory is not enough, they must chastise and beat down the other side, the other side who happens to feel something which they built up is being torn down.

  155. avatar Si'vet says:

    2008
    Black Bear harvest = 2147
    Lion harvest = 416
    most are set seasons with very few quota limited areas
    2009 not released yet

  156. avatar Cobra says:

    Ralph,
    I think your right, due to our varied and different backgrounds and upbringing and even current lives we all have different ideas on where the middle is. It’s different to all of us and no matter what we all feel our middle is the right middle. I’m sure some of us could sit around and have a beer together and discuss the issues without any problems because our ideas are different ,but similar enough or by being open minded enough to consider other views there would be no problems. Thanks again for a place to go.

  157. avatar jburnham says:

    Ironically, “middle of the road” seems to be really polarizing.

    I’d like to remind everyone that this is Ralph’s site. He should feel free to exercise whatever editorial control he desires. A large range of opinions is great, but this is not a democracy, or a governing body, and all comments do not necessarily need to be heard.

    If you have something you feel is important to say, it’s pretty easy to start up your own blog and write about it there. One site can’t be all things to all people.

    btw, I find this discussion quite interesting.

  158. avatar Salle says:

    “Ralph …is this a personal opinion of both you and Ken, a consensus of the “coalition”(of which your group is a member and you’re on the board) and pressure from them, or both?”

    My goodness, Jerry.Ralph said it was his opinion, I don’t think Ken was consulted about the content of the comment. As to the “coalition”, I’m not sure of your reference but I think you might mean the Western Wolf Coalition-? If so, Ralph is not on the board of directors. In addition,, WWC is a coalition of pro-wolf/wildlife organizations and the purpose of this coalition is public education/media source, period. When the coalition meets, the conversation is basically about what is going on with regard to wolves in the legal realm and in the media and then there is discussion on what education tools we have and how to get the message out, that is the extent of it. What happens with this blog or the Wolf Recovery Foundation, the organization of which Ralph is on the executive board, is independent of the “coalition” and all actions are independent.

    In my view, Ralph was simply stating the reasons he doesn’t think posting the names of wolf hunters online was a good idea. I tend to agree with his sentiment for the same reasons.

    Let me ask you; Have you ever had a death threat phone call? They’re frightening and are a form of terrorism and they are prevalent in heated disputes in this country. They are meant to alter behavior based on fear. It is likely that some of these people who are on that list are experiencing such terrorism by fanatics. This is not the way to win an argument of any kind.

    Our society has become desensitized to the harm of violence, even psychological terror, and we are destroying the essence of our purpose as a nation by this mind-set and its perpetuation and fascination with violence – the lowest form of interaction. Where does it end and when do we get back to the actual “working out” agreements and acceptance of these agreements? Where is the “higher ground”?

    I’d rather find the middle of the road rather than grovelling in the ditch, if I can’t find the high point or ultimate goal.

  159. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    JerryB,

    ++I’m aware of some of the valid reasons [for posting the names] , but I won’t waste more time today trying to justify it to this lynch mob.++

    Some do, indeed, want to know the reasoning behind “why” it is necessary to post the names of hunters legally taking wolves under a limited hunting season, on a pro-wolf website. The question was posed several times, and no answers were forthcoming. The issue literally begs for answers, and even you by your comment above say they exist, but do not to offer any.

    Again, why?

Calendar

February 2010
S M T W T F S
« Jan   Mar »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28  

Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

%d bloggers like this: